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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9 Review

May 2007 | By Simon Joinson

Almost exactly 12 months after the launch of the Cyber-shot DSC-H2 and DSC-H5 Sony announced the replacement cameras; the DSC-H7 and the top-of-the-range model reviewed here; the DSC-H9. That Sony chose to increase the pixel count (to 8MP) and to include this year's 'must have' features (face detection and ludicrously high maximum ISO) can't have surprised many, but there are a few less predictable new features, and a few welcome changes. The former include Sony's unique 'NightShot' infra-red mode (seen on many camcorders as well as a few Cyber-shots over the years), a 15x zoom and HDTV (well, 1080i) output. The latter include an articulated (tilt-up) screen, improved focus system, faster performance and a new (in the box) remote control.

The super-zoom market is still one of the most competitive sectors and the H9 is up against some stiff competition from old foes such as Panasonic, Canon and Olympus. The H2 and H5 were both well-received when reviewed this time last year, so let's find out if Sony has built on that success or not.

Cyber-shot DSC-H9 vs DSC-H5 - key changes

  • New sensor (8MP versus 7MP)
  • longer lens range (15x up from 12x)
  • Higher maximum sensitivity (ISO 3200)
  • Tilt-up articulated screen
  • Lithium Ion battery
  • Control dial has moved to rear of camera
  • 9-point AF (was 3-point)
  • New Sports mode
  • HDTV (1080i) video output (via optional component cable)
  • Face detection
  • D-Range optimization (auto contrast)
  • In-camera retouching
  • Remote control included
  • NightShot function for shooting in the dark
  • Entirely new user interface
 

Sony DSC-H9

Sony DSC-H5
Sensor

• 1/2.5 " Type CCD
• 8.1 million effective pixels

• 1/2.5” CCD,
• 7.2 million effective pixels

Lens • Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar
• 31-465mm (35mm equiv)
• 15x optical zoom
• F2.7-4.5
• 36-432mm equiv
• 12x optical zoom
• Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar
• F2.8-3.7
Maximum Image Size 3264 x 2448
3072 x 2304
Sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80-3200
• Auto
• ISO 80-1000
Top shutter speed 1/4000th 1/2000th
Autofocus modes • 9 Area Multi-Point AF
• Center AF
• Flexible spot AF
• 3 Area Multi-Point AF
• Center AF (selectable)
• Flexible spot AF
Scene modes • Twilight • Twilight Portrait • Portrait • Landscape • Beach • Snow • Fireworks • High Sensitivity • Advanced Sports Shooting • Twilight • Twilight Portrait • Portrait • Landscape • Beach • High-speed shutter • High Sensitivity
Continuous Shooting 100 shots, 2.2fps, 8MP (max) 1.1 fps, up to 7 frames
Flash range, Auto ISO Up to 9.8m (wide) Up to 9.0m (wide)
LCD screen • 3.0-inch tilt-up TFT
• 230,000 pixels
• 3.0 " TFT
• 230,000 pixels
Power • Lithium-ion NP-BG1 battery 2x AA
Battery life (CIPA standard, using LCD) 280 340
Weight (inc batteries) 546g 554g
Remote control Included No
Other • NightShot infrared system
• Face Detection
• HDTV output (optional cable)
• Bionz processing engine
• In-camera effects
 

Cyber-shot DSC-H9 vs DSC-H7

As we saw with the previous generation the DSC-H9 has a 'little brother', the DSC-H7. Basically a slightly cut down, cheaper version of the H9, the differences are actually fairly minimal - for most users the screen will be the key.

  • H9 has a larger (3.0 inch), higher-resolution tilting screen (H7: 2.5-inch non-articulated)
  • H9 has external buttons for metering and continuous shooting modes, H7 doesn't
  • H9 is around 32g (1.1 oz) heavier
  • H9 has NightShot function, H7 doesn't.

DSC-H9 specifications

Street price • US: $480
• UK: £320
Body Material Plastic
Sensor

• 1/2.5 " Type CCD
• 8.1 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3264 x 2448
• 2592 x 1944
• 2048 x 1536
• 640 x 480
• 3264 x 2176 (3:2)
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)

Movie clips

• MPEG VX Fine / Standard
(640 x 480 @ 30 / 16 fps MPEG-1 with audio)

File formats • Still: JPEG
• Movie: MPEG VX (MPEG-1)
Lens

• Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar
• 31-465mm (35mm equiv)
• 15x optical zoom
• F2.7-4.5

Image stabilization Super SteadyShot®
Conversion lenses Yes
Digital zoom • 2x (24x total)
• Up to 30x Smart Zoom (dependent on selected resolution)
Focus • Auto
• Macro
• Single
• Monitoring
AF area modes • 9 Area Multi-Point AF
• Center AF
• Flexible spot AF
• Contrast detect
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: 50cm (19.7 in) minimum (W), 120cm (47.25 in) minimum (T)
• Macro: 1cm (0.4 in) wide only
Metering • Multi-pattern (49 zone)
• Center weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
Exposure compensation • +/-2EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing +/- 0.3, 0.7, 1.0 EV
Shutter speed

• Auto: 1/4-1/4000sec
• P: 1"-1/4000sec
• S: 30"-1/4000sec
• A: 8"-1/2000sec
• M: 30"-1/4000sec

Aperture F2.7-5.6 (w) F4.5-8 (t)
Modes

• Program
• Aperture priority
• Shutter priority
• Manual
• 9-preset select scene modes

Scene modes • Twilight
• Twilight Portrait
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Beach
• Snow
• Fireworks
• High Sensitivity
• Advanced Sports Shooting
White balance

• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Fluorescent 1, 2, 3
• Incandescent
• Flash WB
• Manual

Self timer • 10 or 2 secs
Continuous shooting 100 shots, 2.2fps, 8MP (max)
Image parameters Natural, Vivid, Sepia, B&W, Sharpness, Contrast
Flash

• Auto
• On
• Slow Synch
• Off
• Red-eye reduction
• Front/rear synch
• Auto/Daylight synch
• Range: 0.2 - 9.8m (wide) 1.2 - 6m (tele)

Viewfinder • 0.2" EVF
• 201K pixels
LCD monitor • 3.0-inch tilting TFT
• 230K pixels
Connectivity • USB 2.0 high speed
• HD
• AV w/multi-jack
• DC in
Print compliance PictBridge, DPOF
Storage • Memory Stick Duo / Pro Duo compatible
• 31MB internal memory
Power • Lithium-ion NP-BG1 battery
• BC-CSG Charger
Weight (inc batt) 554 g (1 lb 4.3 oz)
Dimensions 113.2 x 83 x 94 mm (4.6 x 3.3 x 3.7 in)


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2007 Simon Joinson / dpreview.com and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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